The psycho-social factors affecting participation in swimming in Nairobi secondary schools
Gathwe, Mary Mwaniki
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Participation in sports has been encouraged to all age groups for its physiological, psychological and social benefits. However, if any sport is to be embraced for its potential benefit, there is need for the potential participant to be motivated so as to initiate and sustain participation. The study therefore sought to examine factors that affect students' participation in the sport of swimming in Nairobi province, with a view of high lighting salient factors that affect their participation, so that the factors that limit participation may be monitored and controlled to avoid withdrawal. The study targeted a population of Form Two and Three students and teachers. Purposive stratified and random sampling was used to select the sample, consisting of 24 secondary schools. Six hundred students and 24 sports/swimming teachers responded to the questionnaires. The following major variables were considered; facilities, funding, significant others, religion, gender, academic load, and other (or level of) interests. T-test for equality of means was used to establish variables significantly influencing participation at p:50.05 level of significance. Further, multiple regression was used to establish variables that significantly influenced participation in swimming (positively or negatively), giving a t-value for each variable tested. Level of interest was identified as the major significant variable influencing participation, as there was not much interest in swimming. Funding, significant others (friends) and facilities followed in that order as other significant variables influencing participation in swimming. Peers were a negative influence as they did not encourage participation in swimming. Mean rate of participation was above average (above 8.77) and higher in single sex schools (8.94) compared to the mixed schools (8.24). Significant predictor variables of participation in single sex schools category were: facilities, funding, other interest and level of interest. In the mixed school category, the significant participation predictor variables were: training (personnel), level of interest and shyness of opposite sex. As a result of the above findings, the following recommendations were proposed. Kenya Swimming Federation, in liaison with Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association, should organize a regular swimming league to promote the sport in schools, particularly for girls whose active participation declines at this age. The government, through the Ministries of Education and Gender, Sports and Social Services, should liaise with Non Governmental Organisations (NGO's) and other sponsors to fund construction of more swimming pools conveniently accessible to the public, especially within or near public schools. This would avail opportunity for more students and general public to have access and learn how to swim, thus creating early and sustained interest in swimming. Marketing strategies should be improved so as to increase sponsorship during swimming galas as this will reduce costs to schools or parents. This will also increase swimming awards by providing more tangible incentives that would attract and increase students' participation.